Last week I was fortunate enough to catch up with Don Broco front man Rob Damiani, ahead of the release of their second album Automatic on August 7th. After the release of the new album they’ll be embarking on an intimate tour across the UK in August, and we chatted about all that and more.
Hey Rob, so how are you?
Good. All goooood. Just about to head of to practice in a bit, but other than that today’s not too much running around like some of the recent days we’ve had this week in the build up to the album. It’s been absolutely crazy so it’s quite nice to just chill out and get some practice in.
So if we start with the most recent news, the ‘Superlove’ single, how’s that been received so far?
I think it’s safe to say it’s probably been our most successful video ever so far. It’s definitely garnered the most attention of any of our videos. When we went to sleep last night the amount of plays it’d had – if that’s anything to go by – completely trumped any other video we’ve put up. It’s so nice to get that instant reaction, when people love it straight away. We had a lot of fun making the video, so we had quite high hopes for it, and were hoping that our fans were gonna dig it too. So it’s nice that it’s worked out!
Yeah the video’s pretty crazy! Having gone from that suave poolside look, in ‘Automatic’, to this is quite a huge difference. What was the thought process behind that?
We wanted to mix things up a little bit. We set out wanting to make a video we hadn’t made before, to do something slightly different. When we spoke to the director who did it, he definitely tapped into that mentality of making an event video where so much weird stuff is going on that you have to double take some of the craziness. For us, we’ve done a few videos now, and when you’re part of a video with such an eclectic cast it definitely makes the day so much more interesting! Meeting all these wonderful people who all had such a different vibe was cool, just to get such a mix of people in the room.
It’s much more of a funk single than anything you’ve done before, was that an intentional move or did it become that as you developed it?
It’s kinda weird actually, there are definitely a lot of funk influences on the album. On a lot of the songs when we first wrote them we were like, “Woah, is this too funky?”, and then once we actually got in the studio it got that Don Broco edge to it. This one’s got that groove, that consistent grove which is nice and we’re always up for bringing the funk in whenever we get the chance! [laughs]Luckily it really worked in this song. We’re also lucky enough to have already played it a few times live, and without people knowing it yet, it’s always got a great reaction. We’re pretty stoked to finally get it out to let people hear it and learn the words so that next time we play it live people are gonna know it.
Tom’s bassline is pretty awesome, has he brought something different to the band and the writing and recording process?
Definitely! He’s an incredible musician. He just picks up the bass and it’s literally no effort for him! We’re always massively practicing, and he’s just like, “Nah”. He just one of those guys who’s got it. It was the first album we wrote with Tom and it was great having that extra pair of ears on the songs. He definitely brought something new and exciting to the writing process. We’re just so lucky to have gelled so well as four members, it feels like we just fit together so seamlessly.
Was it easy for you to hand over the lead vocals in the chorus to Matt?
Ummm… [laughs]It was. Very easy. As soon as we wrote that part there was no way I was gonna be able to sing it! It’s kinda one of those things, it’s just ridiculously high, so I’m on the falsetto duties during the chorus. We’ve always had that dynamic though, because I’ve got quite a low voice and Matt’s got a pretty high voice so that’s ended up becoming one of the defining characteristics of Don Broco. We can get away with those dual vocals, and I love Matt’s voice so it’s great to have that dynamic of the low and the high throughout the song. It’s quite nice taking a breather as well! When you’re on stage and running around you get absolutely knackered!
So where does your inspiration come from? Clearly on the old album ‘Whole Truth’ and ‘Priorities’ have clear storylines, yet ‘Automatic’ and ‘Superlove’ may not be as obvious to some fans.
Across the album there’s definitely some more story telling style kind of lyrics, I haven’t shunned that aspect from the album. I do love stories and how they take you somewhere – you’ve got a mini adventure within it where you find out a tale of what’s gone on and then you get hit with the conclusion at the end. But with these songs they were way more straight up, they came very quickly. We wanted to experiment with just writing some more simple, I guess, pop-style lyrics. With ‘Superlove’, for us, it was a real party song. We came off the You Me at Six tour last April and it was just beautiful sunshine outside – one of those freak weeks in the UK where summer just hits where it shouldn’t have – and we couldn’t sit still. We were in the house trying to crack on with the album, and we were like, “We need to get out”. So we caught a flight to Spain, and brought our guitars and computer with us. The idea was that we needed to just get out of the house, get out of the country, enjoy ourselves and hopefully come back with the song.
It was the day before we were meant to come back and we still hadn’t written anything! So we thought that we’d just have to go for it, so we pretty much ended up writing that in about a day. We were just writing the lyrics around the pool; it’s a very simple song about excess and being addicted to the wrong thing. It ended up reflecting the party vibes that we were feeling that week. For me, lyrically I’d never written a song like that, so it was quite liberating trying something new, and it working. So it was great!
Looking forward towards the album release, we’ve been exposed to a fair bit of it already, but what can we expect overall?
I think there’s definitely going to be a few songs that people might not expect on the album. We definitely tried to push ourselves musically, experimenting with different guitar sounds and the different influences that make Don Broco. Basically we took what we loved about us and pushed it in every direction. We’re really excited for people to hear the full body of it. It’s very much a Don Broco record, and I think for anyone that liked Priorities they’re gonna love this. But at the same time there’s still so much that we haven’t put out yet that people are gonna really dig.
Off the back of the album release you’ve got a nice intimate tour, where you’ll be revisiting some of the earlier venues. Is that something that you’ve always wanted to do once you got big? Repaying the smaller venues for the support they showed you guys?
Definitely. We’ve been talking about doing this kind of tour for a long long time now. Last year we were just heads down right in the album though. Then we did the Kerrang! Tour in February. But we’d all told ourselves that this was something we wanted to do and get back to playing those venues that we started out on. We love playing small shows. You’ve got that connection with the crowd, right up close and personal; there’s nothing that really beats that connection. When you’re singing the words back to each other and everyone’s just in it together and squashed in and sweaty. Nothing really beats that, so we’re very much looking forward to getting out on it.
Looking even further forward you’re playing Brixton. Can you put your excitement for that into words?
Yeah, I mean that’s unreal really. That’s gonna be such a huge moment for us as a band. It’s the venue, probably THE venue, that we went to growing up to see our favourite big bands playing there. The experience and memories we have of that venue, and seeing so many incredible bands. It’s a big one. It still seems quite far away at the moment, but we’re all still talking about it and once the album comes out that is what we’re looking forward to. It’s gonna be a real moment for us in our careers and I think for our fans as well. For the people who supported us back in the day when we were playing the smaller shows it’s going to be kinda crazy to think we’re now playing to a Brixton crowd at the academy. It’s just amazing.
Looking back to the Kerrang! Tour and the bands that have headlined like you did, and to then see where they’ve gone on to be, does that give you a lot of confidence for where Don Broco are heading?
Totally. That tour has had so many huge bands, who’ve been built from that tour. They’re worldwide household names now. We definitely have big aspirations for this band and we want to take things forward and grow. We want to get to do these bigger shows and tours. So fingers crossed that, toward the end of the year and next year moving forward, we’re going to be able to do all of that.
Looking at rock music as a whole, it’s clearly a good time to be in the industry, having seen bands like Fall Out Boy, Lower Than Atlantis and Foo Fighters all play at such a ‘mainstream’ events like Radio 1’s Big Weekend. Are you excited for the future of the genre?
Yeah, definitely. I think rock music gets quite a lot of stick these days, because it isn’t like the way it used to be. I think before rock music was like when the Sex Pistols came out and people thought, “Woah, this is crazy!” and people thought the Rolling Stones were hell-raisers. But now compared to dance music and that sort of thing, which people just want to lose their minds to and have a good time, rock music is much more powerful. You can get so much more longevity out of a great rock song. That’s been proven by Foo Fighters who are one of the biggest bands – not just rock bands – in the world. They’ve built a career off of great songs, and it just shows that there’s something incredibly powerful about rock music. It’s great to see UK rock do well too, Lower Than Atlantis have spent years on the scene, Enter Shikari are ever present, and it’s good to see these bands really holding it down and doing well. So it’s definitely a great time to be involved and I think the UK talent at the moment is just amazing.
The fans always go wild for it, but can we ever expect a bonus track feature for ‘Thug Workout’? And would you ever straighten your hair like that again?!
Probably not going to go back to that hair! There’s always scope to record something, but it’s not that high of a priority at the moment! If there’s an opportunity to make it something special then definitely. For me though, I don’t know why, but there’s something about the shoddiness of it. That recording and that video are what make it so good! I don’t know what it is, and I love the newer videos we’ve done, but whenever I watch that back it really represents a time in our lives. We had literally no money, we were doing everything on a budget and it’s so terrible somehow it’s good! There’s definitely a danger of trying to make something really high end where it shouldn’t be – some things should be left. I don’t think it would have the same charm if it was really well shot. That video… we’ll never say never…
Everyone loves it when you play it live! Gets the push up squad going!
It’s still so much fun to play! It’s definitely something we love, and love the reaction too. It’s definitely a part of Don Broco, it was the turning point for when things really started happening for us. Putting that out there on the underground scene got us some recognition we wouldn’t have got if we hadn’t have done it. But yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Anyone who follows you on social media will know you’ve been to some pretty awesome venues this summer, but which was the best?
I think I could probably speak for everyone in saying that our favourite experience was in Switzerland. We played this incredible festival called Longlake which is in this beautiful city called Lugano which is really small, and we’d never been before but it’s a lovely area of Switzerland. The festival was just insane! It’s quite a small town so they don’t have loads of music coming though, so when they do they go absolutely nuts which is great! So we got a really warm welcome and it was just so picturesque. It was based around this lake, in beautiful sunshine when we went. You can go swimming in Brighton or wherever and the water is just absolutely freezing cold and you just wanna get out straight away, but we went down to this lake and it was just beautiful warm water. It was kind of like some sort of joke, we were thinking, “This is way too nice, we shouldn’t be doing this – we’re a grotty rock band.” Yet it felt like we were in Monte Carlo with the views and everything else around. So for us that was a really interesting experience that we won’t forget any time soon.
Don BrewCo. is something completely different, and I haven’t seen a band do that before. Where did that idea come from?
It came from us wanting to do something a little bit different. With the album coming out August 7th, obviously you can get a t-shirt bundle, a vinyl bundle but on top of that we wanted to put something out there that people might not have had. So we developed this tea and coffee side to Don Broco, called Don BrewCo. and it was really fun for us actually. We got to play at being these coffee and tea guys who got to try all these beans and different blends, we got to pick tea leaves out and choose the flavours that we wanted in it. So it was really fun for us and something different to do!
So if you could put your name on any other product what would it be?
Good shout! Well be were talking yesterday and thinking about what’s next, and we came up with the terrible name of Don Bovril. I don’t know who eats bovril, it’s just one of those things that’s in your granddad’s cupboard. There’s just something so naf about Don Bovril that it’s just got to be pursued. So watch this space!
You also love your parody tshirts, any chance of “I’m in love with the Broco”?
[laughs]Yeahhhh… I think we might have missed the boat on that already, but maybe further down the line yeah! We love a good parody and a good pun. If we’re on it quick enough be warned, it’s probably going to come out!
Well I don’t want to push my luck with time, so thanks a lot and I look forward to the new album!
Thank you! Take care buddy!
Automatic is available from for preorder now, and is released on August 7th through Epic Records